SAN DIEGO, June 13, 2015 – The WBC heavyweight title remains in the hands of Deontay Wilder (33-0, 32 KOs) after a ninth round knockout of Texan Eric Molina (23-3, 17 KOs). No, that’s not a typo. Molina made it a far more challenging contest than anyone expected.
Despite being knocked down three times enroute to the final stoppage by referee Jack Reiss, Molina fought with tremendous will to supplement his limited skills but he gave himself every chance for that one punch win by staying in with Wilder, only the second fighter to do so other than Bermane Stiverne. In doing so, Molina revealed several of Wilder’s weaknesses.
Molina surprisingly rocked Wilder with a big left hand, hurting him more than he might have realized in the third round. He worked Wilder to the body at times, and had he landed more of the punches flush, this column might be relating a different story.
Wilder got to work, returning the favor with a left hook that dropped Molina in Round 4. Moilna made it out of the round, but hit the canvas twice more in the fifth round. Several more rounds ticked off the clock before Wilder decked Molina with the right hand everyone had expected, and this time Jack Reiss decided he’d seen enough, stopping the fight at 1:03 of the round.
Wilder dominated by the numbers, landing 141 of 303 punches (46 percent) to Molina’s 49 of 186 (26 percent). Wilder landed 66 power punches to Molina’s 43, and an overwhelming 75 jabs to Molina’s six jabs (yes, just six). But Molina made the most of his power shots, and who knows whether he could have gotten lucky at some point during the bout with the perfect punch?
Wilder acknowledged Molina’s effort, speaking to him after the bout, and telling Showtime’s Jim Gray, “It does my heart good to stand in front of him (Molina) and say this man’s got heart … I respect him and I thank him for the opportunity to put on a great show for the state of Alabama,” said Wilder. Wilder said he would be rooting for Molina from here out.
Wilder acknowledged he is still learning his craft. “I’m definitely still a work in progress and learning. I always tell myself once I stop learning, I don’t want to be in the sport no more. I have fun when I’m learning. When I’m a know it all, there’s nothing else to learn, that’s no fun,” said Wilder.
Wilder says he looks forward to facing his mandatory challenger, Alexander Povetkin of Russia. Although Wilder has expressed the desire to unify the division and fight Wladimir Klitschko for his belts, Wilder has some work to do based on Saturday’s performance. He needs to develop some defensive skills and a bigger repertoire of punches. Wilder should consider biding his time, taking on opponents like Tyson Fury and even a guy like Chris Arreola.
A packed house in Birmingham including Evander Holyfield and Charles Barkley ringside were elated with the show, producing an electric, enthusiastic atmosphere. Every fighter should get the opportunity to be surrounded by this kind of fan involvement. For many it was the first time they had ever seen boxing in person, much less a world championship boxing event. It’s healthy for boxing to stage bouts at this level outside of New York, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles. When Wilder can pack a house in Birmingham, and Terence Crawford can do the same in Omaha, it’s in front of truly appreciative fans who develop a long term love and loyalty for the sport. Don’t ever pass up a chance to see boxing live.
Super featherweight Jose Pedraza of Puerto Rico (20-0, 12 KOs) dominated Andrey Klimov (19-2, 9 KOs) of Russia in a shutout decision which included an eighth round knockdown. Scores were 119-109, and two cards with 120-108. Pedraza threw Klimov off by coming out in a southpaw stance, throwing plenty of jabs and left hoods. By the time Pedraza returned to an orthodox stance, Klimov was showing the effects of getting blasted, with two swollen eyes and a bloody nose that appeared to be broken. Pedraza is now the new IBF junior lightweight champion, making him the third Puerto Rican along with Miguel Cotto and Felix Verdejo to hold a world title.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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